News / Arts & Entertainment

Historic US Route 66 Still Sparks Wanderlust

Historic US Route 66 Still Sparks Wanderlusti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
August 06, 2014 10:47 PM
Route 66, the legendary highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, offered a road to a better life for many Americans, and became a symbol of wanderlust in 20th century. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, the highway, called the main street of America, is the focus of an exhibit in Los Angeles.
Mike O'Sullivan

Route 66, the legendary highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, offered a road to a better life for many Americans, and became a symbol of wanderlust in 20th century. The highway, called the main street of America, is the focus of an exhibit in Los Angeles.  

Route 66 covered nearly 4,000 kilometers of the American heartland and West, and generations came westward on this route long before it became a paved highway.  

The writer John Steinbeck called it the "Mother Road," and it became a symbol of freedom for 1950s Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road.

Great migration

His manuscript, typed on a 35-meter scroll, is on display at the Autry National Center of the American West, which has put on the Route 66 exhibit.

Also there is Woody Guthrie's guitar. The folk singer was one of many who celebrated the highway, which offered an escape from drought-stricken Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.

“That 66 highway is mighty hard. All day you're hot, all night you freeze. But we've got to have work so we're taking a chance from old Oklahoma to Los Angeles,” sang Guthrie.

Jazz musician Bobby Troup was another who celebrated the highway, with this 1946 hit. “It winds from Chicago to L.A. More than 2,000 miles all the way. Get your kicks on Route 66.”

Cross-country expansion

Curator Jeffrey Richardson said much of the country's growth in the west during the 1940s and '50s happened along the highway.

“In the explosion in American society that took place in the post-world War II period, an explosion of economics, of people, Route 66 really became both a major thoroughfare to move people across the country, but it was also a popular tourist destination,” he said.

The road captured the country's imagination in the 1960s television series Route 66.

But by then, the highway's importance began to fade. President Dwight D. Eisenhower spearheaded the construction of a national interstate highway system in the 1950s and as the system grew, it bypassed more and more sections of Route 66.   In 1985, the route was officially decommissioned, but much of the old road still exists.

For most who travel the route west, the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California, is the end of the journey.

Dan Rice sells Route 66 souvenirs on the Santa Monica Pier, and has traveled on the road many times.

“I've done it 29 times now. That's from beginning to end, Chicago to Los Angeles. If we were counting just the times that I did it through the Southwest, I can't even count. I've done it a lot,” he said.

Romantic travelogue

Rice said Route 66 still draws tourists who want to drive the route and others who want to enjoy its romance.

“To get out in the middle of Kansas and Oklahoma and the Panhandle of Texas and New Mexico, and just see the land rolling on and on and on, and nothing but you and the sky and the wind in your hair, it's pretty great,” said Rice.

Autry Center curator Jeffrey Richardson said Route 66 is an American symbol around the world.

“And since we've put this exhibition on, I've had friends and colleagues who have traveled across the world, who have sent me pictures of Route 66 shields and other things in cafes in Paris,” he said.

Dan Rice has met tourists from Norway, Saudi Arabia and Australia who have come to make the journey. And for people in Los Angeles, the westward end of the highway, the freedom and adventure of Route 66 still beckons.

 

You May Like

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

Governors of several East Coast states close schools, order travel bans, urge people to stay home as snowfall, heavy winds, flooding continue in areas More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."